Last night I felt like I took a trip to Manila for one night. I joined fellow food bloggers once again for a media tasting at Casa Manila on York Mills at Don Mills in North York. Immediately when you walk in you are greeted the way you might be into someone's home for a family gathering. The space is larger than you would expect and it is decorated with art brought from Manila and the chairs and some decor are made of bamboo which invokes a real island feel in the space.
We were welcomed by the very animated and excited Mila who is the owner and brainchild of Casa Manila. She is very passionate about explaining all of the dishes and their origins and the ingredients and the quality of the food. Her goal in the restaurant was to provide Filipino Food that is authentic for the sorely lacking choice of Filipino food in Toronto. There have been a few restaurants pop up with Filipino food, one is a modern version on Queen Street and there are some smaller less fancy places around the Bathurst and Wilson Area but this space is designed to make you feel like you are celebrating a special occasion with your Filipino relatives back home as they say.
We were invited to participate in Kamayan style dinner. It translates into "eat with your hands". The food is served on a bamboo leaf covered table and the food is placed on the table. No utensils except for wooden spoons to grab the rice and the items placed at the centre of the table. Only dishes of various dipping sauces and of course carved out coconuts for drinking were the only dish and glassware provided. Imagine a Filipino Luau and that's what it's like to dine this way.
Mila invited a group of food bloggers to sample this feast because she is launching their own brand of dipping sauces and cooking sauces. She wanted us to experience the whole dinner as an event and try the sauces in context. She has plans to expand her business by looking to wholesale her products and get them into people's home kitchens and also commercial kitchens. The sauce flavours include a Savoury Peanut Sauce, Creamy Coconut Ginger and Adobo Sauces. You can pick them up in their restaurant but Mila is looked for grocery store placement.
We ate and drank a whole lot of very authentic and beautifully flavoured food. The drinks available to us were a really refreshing Calamansi (a Filipino lime) Mojito, Sansi a root beer, Royal an orange drink and San Miguel Beer.
The food included Sinigang Baka (Beef Tamarind Soup) which was so delicious with an array of vegetables it had a balance of sweet, sour and spicy. I loved this soup.
The appetizer was a Chicharon Manok and Atchara, instead of pork they deep fried chicken skin and served it with a pickled green papaya and garlic aoili. Crunchy goood.
- Tinuhog na Manok which are chicken skewers and dipping sauces.
- Inihaw Baka, thinly slices beef ribs with Coconut ginger sauce.
- Lechon Kawali, Crispy Pork Belly
- Flying Talapia, a deep fried whole fish.
- Hilaw Manga Insalada, a green mango salad with jicamas, tomato, red and green onions, served with shrimp paste.
For Dessert Mila brought out a huge trifle bowl filled with Halo Halo (Mix Mix). This is a shaved ice that has over a dozen different things that are mixed in including: sweet beans, custard, purple yam, puffed rice and assorted fruits.
There were a lot of very stuffed food bloggers that rolled out of Casa Manila last night. I am sure the other patrons must of thought we were all nuts because we all Foodarazzi'd every dish that came out by pouncing on them with our cameras and smart phones all the while Mila was explaining everything.
This is what the blogger aftermath looked like. We were fully entertained and stuffed and I am sure a lot of us will go back and take our friends for special occasions for this feast again soon.
You don't have to go there for a feast only, the have lovely regular family meals and they deliver within the Toronto area and willing to deliver as far as Barrie with an extra delivery charge.
If you ever dreamed about visiting the Phillipines but couldn't afford to then visit
Casa Manila at 879 York Mills Road, Unit 1, Toronto, ON M3B 1Y5
F Casa Manila Restaurant
P Casa ManilaTO